Culture Coach Says Way Too Many People Have A ‘Victim Mentality’ At Work These Days — A CEO Disagrees In A Big Way

"Wages have not kept pace with productivity in decades," the CEO said — and that was just the beginning of her criticisms.

ceo trying to inspire employees skynesher  / Canva Pro

There are no two ways about it — people are tired, demoralized, and angry about the state of their jobs and finances nowadays. But is that because of actual problems or merely perception?

That's the debate that was sparked between two experts on TikTok, which left a lot of workers feeling heated.

A corporate culture coach said too many people have a 'victim mentality' at work, but a CEO vehemently disagreed.

No matter whose data you look at, the picture is clear: Workers are deeply unhappy at their jobs.


Recent studies and surveys have shown, for instance, that 79% of workers don't trust their employers, less than half think their employers even care anything about them, and workers are more disengaged from their jobs than they've been in almost a decade.

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But Grace McCarrick, a corporate culture expert and consultant known as @gracetheculturecoach on TikTok, lays at least part of the blame on workers' mindsets. Her take on the matter sparked quite a heated debate, as her opinion essentially amounts to victim-blaming.

McCarrick says there's never been more opportunity to succeed in a career, but people refuse to seize it.

"Why do people have such a victim mentality about work right now?" McCarrick asked in her recently-deleted TikTok. Stitched into other creator videos, she went on to say that many people, especially among younger generations, are missing "the big picture" when it comes to their careers.



"As far as I'm concerned, being someone who studies this, this is the most opportunity we've ever had to create the lives we want, to create the jobs we want, to do the things we want to do," McCarrick said. 


She attributed this largely to how technology has fundamentally changed the working world, enabling people to be more entrepreneurial and "build things for yourself in a way we never could before."

"So I'm missing why people feel so victimized by the system," she said. "There's just a lot of people with this mentality that work is just never going to work out for them. And I don't know where it's coming from." 

She theorized that part of it may be that "the rules have changed so quickly" that many have not yet adapted to the new normal. As she put it, "What used to be here as the ladder to success is not the ladder anymore," which adds to an opportunity that many people don't seize. 

Entrepreneur and CEO Denise Conroy vehemently disagreed and laid the blame on decades of economic dysfunction.

It's hard to argue that McCarrick doesn't somewhat have a point — perceptions are contagious, especially in the age of social media. It's all too easy for commiseration about hardships to calcify into simply throwing up one's hands in anger — which is basically giving up.


But McCarrick's take misses some key nuances. Chief among them is that not everybody is built for an entrepreneurial life. It's worth noting that without the corporate drones she seems so critical of, consulting businesses like McCarrick's would not exist.

The bottom line, though, is that those who are better suited to a 9-5 job with a boss — business as usual, if you will — should be able to thrive, too. And as entrepreneur and CEO Denise Conroy laid out in her counterpoint to McCarrick, that hasn't been the case in America for decades. 



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"Let me get this straight," Conroy said in her response. "You think that employees have a victim mentality, generally speaking, right now? Ok, I think you're full of [expletive]."

She then listed several ways the American economy and business world have consistently left workers behind. "Maybe employees are a little fussed up because real wages have not kept pace with productivity for decades," she said. "Not a couple of years, decades."

She's absolutely right. According to the Economic Policy Institute, productivity rose 61.8% from 1970 to 2020. Inflation-adjusted wages? 17.5%. And while pay has gone up substantially in recent years, the gains have mostly gone to the top 10% of workers, not the ones who so desperately need them, which has actually worsened wealth inequality rather than improved it.

Culture Coach Says People Have A Victim Mentality At Work But CEO DisagreesPhoto: KlingSup / Canva Pro


Conroy then called out the high prices on practically everything right now after the runaway inflation of 2021 and 2022. "Have you been to the grocery store?" she asked McCarrick. "It's $8 for cream cheese, eight [expletive] dollars."

The soaring costs of daycare, housing, and healthcare were Conroy's next focus — especially the fact that the latter requires most people to be chained to corporate jobs that offer health insurance, leaving many "trapped," in Conroy's words.

This is all happening, of course, at the same time that corporations have racked up record profits, including those of the past couple of years derived from so-called "greedflation"— corporations using "inflation" as cover to artificially jack up prices simply because they can.



And that's all before we take into account the very thing that McCarrick consults on — toxic work culture, which Conroy attributes in part to "mediocre" CEOs and executives who lack "emotional intelligence" and reify issues like workplace bullying and discrimination, both of which are on the rise


In the end, the real nature of the problem is probably a mix of both of these women's takes — the extraordinarily abusive economic and business world in which we live has led all too many people to feel demoralized and simply give up. 

But blaming the victim the way McCarrick does is not a good look. It's completely out of touch with reality and hews to the same scapegoating, intellectually bankrupt right-wing "bootstrap" mentality both political parties have trafficked in for decades to create this mess in the first place.

Or, as Conroy put it far more bluntly and eloquently, comparing McCarrick to Marie Antoinette: "In the words of some snot-nosed [witch] back in the day … let them eat hustle culture."


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.